Planning and preparing a delicious meal is the ultimate satisfaction. Exploring the kitchen for ingredients to complete a meal, finding a recipe that includes all those ingredients and then stimulating all the senses – tactile, smell, visual, sound in preparing the meal, followed by taste as the meal is experienced, is the consummate lesson of mindfulness! It is a lesson in creativity, patience and then reward. It can bring people together, foster relationships, and nourish the body. The goal of cooking is to use mostly ingredients that will work towards the goal of keeping you full and energized until the next meal.
My philosophy on cooking is that recipes are only guidelines. They can be adjusted, substituted or augmented to make up for lack of ingredients and to enhance flavor and nutritive value. Don’t have an egg? Use 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 Tbsp. liquid, 1 Tbsp. vinegar. Run out of oil for baking? Try using fruit or even a squash puree. Would you like to have a healthier mashed potato? Try substituting cooked cauliflower for half of the potato. Need to stretch some soup? Add some packages of chopped frozen veggies and a can of beans. Want to improve the nutritive value of rice? Mix a third brown rice, a third barley and a third lentil beans. They all take about an hour to cook and can be cooked together. Just stick to a 2 to 1 ratio of water to dry ingredients. I often make up a whole pot of this and freeze some for later use.
Remember that eating is more than just filling your mouth and stomach – it’s fueling your body so that it can perform at its best. Would you put regular unleaded gas in your car if it called for premium? Only if you want damaged the cylinders. I don’t think so. So why doesn’t your body deserve the best foods so that it can perform at its best?